(Update: Commentary from two analysts added.)

The e-book war is on.

Barnes & Noble ( BKS) announced today that it has launched a new e-bookstore that will allow shoppers to read books on Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and computers.

The bricks-and-mortars bookseller will also be the exclusive provider of books for a reader from Plastic Logic, which will be released in 2010. It expects to make more devices compatible over the next several months.

Barnes & Noble plans to offer more than 700,000 titles initially and up to 1 million within a year. That includes the more than half-million books Google ( GOOG) recently made available for free. It will sell all other trade and traditional titles for $9.99 each.

Amazon.com ( AMZN) offers about 325,000 titles for its Kindle, while the Sony ( SNE) Reader has about 600,000, including Google's free titles.

Forrester Research estimates that electronic books make up less than 2% of total U.S. book sales. But, of course, like music downloading, the market for online books is expected to grow.

Barnes & Noble did sell e-books in 2001, but exited the market after it found inadequate demand. But analysts say the Kindle's popularity has stimulated consumer appetite for electronic books.

Barnes & Noble has been looking for ways to make its digital presence known. Last month the company launched an application for the iPhone and iPod touch, allowing readers access to exclusive content and customer reviews, as well as information about the more than 50,000 events in stores.

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